Does your coffee taste bland? Perhaps it tastes gritty and murky. Did you buy the wrong kind of beans?
Maybe you did. Maybe you didn’t.
Choosing the right kind of espresso beans for your coffee can be difficult. There are hundreds of brands out there.
The beans are labeled with fancy buzzwords: dark roast, medium roast, single-origin or espresso blend. You might ask yourself, How do I pick the best coffee beans for my espresso?
Well, have no fear. This article will tell you everything you need to know about espresso beans.
We’ll walk you through the differences between regular coffee and espresso, as well as how to identify good from the bad. You will also learn how to select the right one. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll be pulling espresso shots with the confidence of a seasoned barista!
What are Espresso Coffee Beans?
People often ask if espresso comes from different beans than regular coffee. Here’s the thing- regular coffee and espresso all come from the same beans.
Espresso beans are special because they are roasted for longer periods of time, which is why espresso beans are darker than ordinary coffee beans. Espresso beans have a longer roasting process.
On the other hand, roasted coffee beans tend to look oily on the outside. Beans that have a darker roast have a greasy, shiny surface. They are known as French or Italian style roasts.
Espresso is made from two kinds of coffee beans- Robusta and Arabica. While Robusta is usually used to make regular coffee, espresso is often a blend of the two.
The two beans produce coffees that taste quite different. Coffee made from Robusta beans is less sweet, less acidic, strong and has a higher caffeine content.
Arabica produces coffee that is sweeter and has a richer, more balanced flavor. Espresso blends generally contain a higher percentage of arabica. There are also espresso brands that use only Arabica beans.
Coffee beans for espresso are harvested in different parts of the world. They are primarily grown in Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Columbia, and Guatemala.
Coffee Beans vs Espresso Beans– How are They Different?
We’ve already established that coffee beans and espresso beans come from the same plant. But then how are the two different? Two major differences in how the beans are treated determine whether the beverage is ordinary coffee or espresso.
Espresso beans take more time to roast than coffee beans. Secondly, espresso is brewed differently. But that’s not all- coffee and espresso are essentially two different beverages.
Here are all the ways coffee is different from espresso-
Coffee beans selected for espresso are meant to be roasted for a longer time than beans for regular coffee. Thus, espresso beans look different, are darker in color and have an oily surface. In comparison, ordinary coffee beans are lightly roasted and don’t have an oily sheen.
Regular coffee grounds are coarse. On the other hand, beans for espresso are more finely ground. They have an almost sand-like texture.
Regular coffee has a mild flavor. Espresso is known for its strong, rich taste and an unmistakable aroma. Medium and dark-roasted espresso brews are stronger than coffee.
The unique, velvety taste is what makes espresso stand out. Coffee lacks the depth and complexity people associate with a good shot of espresso.
Coffee is brewed by simple, everyday methods. They can be made by pour-over or drip processes.
Espresso can’t be brewed like ordinary coffee. Espresso making requires an espresso machine.
A shot of espresso is brewed through the quick and high-pressure espresso method. The espresso method works by pushing hot water through a machine at high pressure within twenty-five to thirty seconds.
Since the brewing time is short (less than a minute), the beans must be ground to a fine powder. This process creates a thicker, stronger brew than regular coffee.
The process of brewing espresso gives it the characteristic layers. At the bottom of the glass, you have the flavorful, dark brown espresso. Moreover, the espresso is topped with a later of golden, creamy foam.
This foam is known as crema. Ordinary coffee doesn’t produce crema.
Brewing Robusta coffee creates more crema when compared to Arabica.
Crema isn’t always golden, though. Light-colored crema means your espresso was under-extracted and won’t be as strong or flavorful. Dark crema means your espresso was over-extracted.
Over-extracted coffee will taste harsh and bitter. However, darker roasted beans produce darker crema, so it might just be a matter of preference for many.
A cup of coffee and a shot of espresso have different amounts of caffeine. Since espresso is stronger and packs more flavor than coffee, you might expect it to have more caffeine than regular coffee. Right?
Wrong! A cup of coffee (8 oz) contains around 100mg of caffeine on average.
On the other hand, a shot of espresso (1.75 oz) contains 63mg of caffeine. You will feel more alert after a cup of coffee when compared to a shot of espresso.